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8-year-old N.J. girl whose dad died in the line of duty pays for officer’s dinner tab

HELMETTA, N.J. — A mystery donor who picked up the tab for a cop in New Jersey turned out to be an 8-year-old girl with “a special place in her heart” for police officers after her own father was killed in the line of duty, just months before she was born.

Last Friday, an officer with the Jamesburg Police Department stopped at Villa Borghese II, an Italian restaurant and pizza shop in Helmetta, N.J., to pick up dinner.

When he went to pay for his food, he was told he owed nothing. Someone had already settled the bill.

“If that were the end of the story, it would be a good story,” the police department said in a Facebook post on Monday. “What happened between then and today, makes this a great story.”

Thanks to “diligent police work,” the department figured out who paid for Patrolman Quinn’s dinner.

It was 8-year-old Mikayla Raji, the daughter of a Perth Amboy police officer whom she never met. Thomas Raji was killed in the line of duty by a drunken driver in 2008, 7 months before she was born.

Raji and her mom were having dinner at the restaurant when Quinn walked in. The 8-year-old smiled and said hello the officer — then leaned over to her mom, a retired police officer, and insisted on buying Quinn’s dinner, the department said.

“Mikayla has a special place in her heart for police officers,” the department said.

Quinns’ colleagues had two special messages for Raji and her mother, Mimi Jimenez-Raji:

“To Mimi,
On behalf of all the members of the Jamesburg Police Department, we want to thank you for Tommy’s service as well as yours. Mikayla is a great kid, and you should be very proud of her.”

“To Mikayla,
Thank you for buying Ptl. Quinn’s dinner. You have an OPEN invitation to stop by Headquarters whenever you want, and this time dinner is on us! Your dad would be so proud of the person you are. If you ever need us for anything, you can guarantee we will be there for you.”